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The medieval town of Carcassonne looks like one giant fairytale castle: its 53 towers, protected by tall, fortified walls, sit atop a hill, surrounded by gorgeous rows of grape vines. You'll be in thrall to this town before you arrive - the view of it as you approach is magical. If you're just looking for accommodation recommendations go straight to our guru's list. Otherwise, here are some good reasons to visit, and some of the best places to stay in Carcassonne to enjoy them.
There's been a town, or fortification, on this hilltop since about 100BC, but the last major work took place in the 13th Century. And by the 1800s Carcassonne had been largely forgotten and left to crumble… But as soon as the powers that be proposed its demolition people took affront, and the public uproar ensured it was repaired and became the famous heritage listed town of today.
The majority of the best places to stay in Carcassonne aren't actually in the old town. Partly because there aren't too many accommodation options within the walls.
If the pictures of Carcassonne seem familiar it might be because you've seen the town in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves? Both the beautiful sight of it from a distance and the winding, twisted alleyways of its interior. Where tiny houses crouch together around grand churches like they'd never heard of town planning! The Basilique St. Nazarine, with its impressive rose windows and its grand organ, are definitely worth a look.
Carcassonne is very beautiful at night. Especially if you're here in the summer when it's inundated with festivals of all shapes and sizes. There are something like one hundred different festivals held here annually! But if you're looking for the town's real magic then come out of season when you'll have the place a little more to yourself.
Sitting beneath the old town, and linked to it by two bridges crossing the Canal du Midi, is the Ville Basse or Lower Town. This area is where you can find most of the practical necessities of life.
Don't forget to plan well ahead. In the busy summer months it can be very hard to find a bed in the best places to stay in Carcassonne!
For central location
- If you want to stay in its medieval heart then the best place to stay in Carcassonne is at 42 Rue Victor Hugo. Obviously accommodation is limited by the size and shape of the original medieval buildings, but this gorgeous B&B has three good sized boutique apartments. Their decor is lovely - all high ceilings, parquet floors and fancy fireplaces. With self catering options this is also a good choice for families.
- The next best thing to staying within the walls must be staying beside the walls? And if this wonderful view sounds appealing to you then one of the best places to stay in Carcassonne is the Hotel de Chateau. Surprisingly modern inside, the hotel's garden leads right up to the medieval ramparts, so you can enjoy the view from the comfort of the very modern pool and deck.
- If you're planning a romantic break the Hotel de la Cite will fit the bill nicely. Nestled into the ramparts, this charming, ivy covered building has wonderfully traditional features which have been retained and sumptuously added too. With its Michelin star restaurant this is also one of the best places to stay in Carcassonne for foodies.
Slightly out of town
- The Chateau de Cavanac is an ivy covered rural retreat, with plenty of space for a pool and tennis court. With rooms starting from less than £60 a night this is also one of the best places to stay in Carcassonne if you're on a budget.
- Just out of the Ville Basse, you'll find La Bastide Saint Martin. It's an understated country villa with just 15 rooms, and large grounds. So if you're travelling with a family who likes to spread out then this is certainly one to bear in mind.
Still not sure? Browse though our list of all the best places to stay in Carcassonne, or call, or email, one of our gurus for advice. Alternatively look further afield and check out all our recommendations in the Langeudoc Roussillon.
Best Hotels in Carcassonne
Chateau de Cavanac 27 rooms from $78Carcassonne (Languedoc Roussillon)
Stunning ivy covered country house with an excellent restaurant. Bedrooms, suites and family rooms with four poster beds, fireplaces and tapestries. Beautiful grounds and terraces, swimming pool, billiards and a tennis court. Great for families, groups, and foodies. Excellent value.FamiliesFoodiesSights nearby - Ideal base for exploring CarcassonneSwimming Pool - Outdoor PoolRecommended by - Sawdays
Ecuries de sainte Croix 3 rooms from $86Carcassonne
A gorgeously rustic stone farmhouse B&B just outside Carcassonne. The perfect spot for a more relaxed holiday for families, groups of friends, or romantic getaways. Three simple rooms and two cottages. Very charming.Value chicGroupsFamiliesSights nearby - Just outside Carcassonne. Great base for discovering the region
La Bastide Saint Martin 15 rooms from $97Carcassonne (Avenue de Saint-Martin)
A pretty sandstone country house with blue shutters. Rustic rooms and family suites with stone floors, wooden beds, and doors that lead into the garden. A luxurious swimming pool and sun deck for lounging. Ideal relaxation for families, groups, or couples.FamiliesSwimming Pool - 12x6 outdoor poolLocal markets - Good for local colour.Sights nearby - Well located for major sights.
Chateau de Palaja 12 rooms from $137Carcassonne (Palaja)
A beautiful white stone castle with a house party feel. Simple, modern rooms and suites with wooden beamed ceilings and white washed walls. Great restaurant, extensive gardens with a swimming pool, and a spa. A great choice for families or groups of friends.FamiliesSights nearby - Just five minutes from the centre of CarcassonneSwimming Pool - Outdoor PoolSpa
42 Rue Victor Hugo 3 rooms from $166Carcassonne
Gorgeous B&B with three huge boutique apartments. High ceilings, richly painted walls, parquet floors, and fireplaces. A sumptuous spot with self-catering options and close to restaurants, markets, and the sights of Carcassonne.Cooking classes - Explore the markets and then cook your goodiesSights nearby - Located in the centre of the old townDesigner - Uniquely designed interiors.Local markets - Good for local colour.Recommended by - I Escape
Hotel du Chateau 16 rooms from $217Carcassonne
Medieval exteriors and contemporary interiors at this chic hotel within the castle's ramparts. Rooms and suites with vaulted ceilings, exposed stone, and rich silk fabrics. Enjoy indulgent pampering from the spa, and relax on the terraces or by the swimming pool.Sights nearby - Located next to the chateau in central Carcassonne. Walking distance to all the major attractions in the city.Swimming Pool - Lovely Outdoor PoolSpaLocal markets - Good for local colour.
Hotel de la Cite 61 rooms from $235Carcassonne
Utterly romantic, utterly unique. A hotel nestled in the ramparts of Carcassonne's citadel and surrounded by beautiful gardens. A fairytale building with turrets, exquisite bedrooms, a Michelin star restaurant, and a swimming pool. A special spot for anyone who can afford it.Outstanding location - Atop the medieval walls of Carcassonne.Foodies - Michelin star.Romantic BreakRomantic - Good for couples.Recommended by - Tablet